Pineville secures funding for Courthouse Square project

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Mayor Scott Madon announced that all the necessary funding has been secured to complete the City of Pineville’s downtown streetscape project at Monday’s city council meeting. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is providing an additional $1 million and the Kentucky state budget includes $1 million for the project in both 2024 and 2025.

Madon explained that the low bid for the project came in at $3,648,013. Costs for traffic control have been taken out of that bid to save $302,293. The city will take care of traffic control through the police, fire and street departments and has ordered about $5,000 worth of cones, signs and tape. Pineville Utility Commission Manager Robert Roan has worked to find street lighting, new receptacles and other connections to use around the square at an estimated cost of $565,000. That leaves the total cost for the project at $3,910,720.

Available funding now includes a total of $1,704,000 from the ARC, $1,342,500 in unspent bond funds, and a total of $2 million from the state over the next two years.

Email newsletter signup

“We finally have some good news after 18 months or however long we’ve been waiting,” Madon said. “Thanks to (State Rep.) Adam Bowling and (Sen.) Johnnie Turner we have $1 million from the state budget in 2024-25 and if we do go over, we’ll have another $1 million in the state budget for 2025-26.”

Total funding for the project is now at $5,046,500.

Madon said the final paperwork is being completed to give the city access to those funds and he is hopeful that work on the project can start by the first of June, right after the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival.

“I hate to throw a date out there, but we’re ready to go, we’ve already bid the project,” he said. “If we don’t get started then it certainly won’t be because of anything on our end. We’ve got a meeting next week with KU and all of the different people who are involved with the electrical. Again, we’ll be dealing with the state and the ARC, but I don’t think this will take anywhere near as long because we’re already in the cycle.”

Green Construction is the low bidder for the project and the architects estimates it will take six to nine months for it to be completed. Madon said there has been some discussion between Green Construction and DelMae, the other bidder, about working together to get the project completed faster.

“I know it’s been long and it’s been difficult, but getting started in June we shouldn’t have many issues with the weather,” Madon said. “I had talked to Robert about the issues of trying to pour concrete in the winter — you have to mix it with antifreeze and that makes it more susceptible to chipping and breaking. As bad as it’s all been, maybe it’s worked our for the best.”

Council member Alicia Slusher asked if there was any chance something could pop up to cause another hold-up in the project.

Madon said he couldn’t promise that. “You never know when you’re dealing with federal money, but we’re passed the environmental studies and all of that stuff. I wouldn’t think we would have any more issues,” he said. “I’d say our biggest problem could be just because there are so many projects in the pipeline right now at the USDA level, at the Department for Local Government level. I know our project is in the top three of the ARC’s recommended projects.”

The council also approved a resolution to allow the Utility Commission to enter a bonding lease agreement and authorizing the execution of various documents related to financing a $1 million bond for several projects.

Roan said part of the money would also be used to pay off about $300,000 in current debts and the monthly payments saved would be roughly equal to the payment on the new bonds at about $6,000 per month.

“It’s really an investment in our future to make sure we stay strong,” he said. “I hate to pick on Everts, but they’re having all kinds of problems with their water lines up there and this will keep us from having any of those same types of problems as long as we keep investing in our future.”

Brian Skinner from Ross, Sinclair & Associates said the rate for the bond was 4%.

“We represent the Kentucky League of Cities financing program, which the city has been a part of and the Utility has been a part of,” he said. “This will provide funds for a bunch of smaller projects, kind of an all-in-one thing, that would be pretty tough to absorb and pay over the next few years without borrowing money.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

“It’s good to see the utility and the Utility Commission planning for the future, long-range,” Council member Pat Bingham said.

Mason added that the water company just received an AML grant to redo a water tank in Frakes.

“It was in really bad shape and we thought we were going to have to pay for it, but dug in and found some money from Abandoned Mines,” he said.

The council also approved a resolution to authorize the submission of a new Land and Water Conservation grant application for funds  for a splash pad and pickle ball court for the mini park on Walnut Street.

Madon said the city’s previous grant application was denied in the Department for Local Government’s budget.

The last one was for $250,000. The new grant application is for $275,000 and includes new fencing and some extra concrete for the pickle ball court.

“They had $11 million in applications and $7 million in funds last time. I was upset until I (found out we were getting funds for the streetscape project), so I guess we can’t be too upset over it,” Madon said.

Johnna Callebs provided a Main Street update. She thanked fellow Co-Director Tammy Jones for getting the new website up and running.

“She’s worked really hard on that. It’s got all of our businesses listed, any community events, anything going on,” Callebs said. “She’s also done our accreditation so Main Street Pineville remains a nationally accredited program.”

Main Street Pineville also held a Mix and Mingle at the theater on Tuesday evening for business and individuals to meet, network and make any suggestions for events they can hold in the coming year.

The fourth annual Pine Mountain HillClimb will be April 19-21.

“We have a pre-party planned for Friday the 19th starting at 4 o’clock. We’ll have a parade of cars that will park around the square and people will be able to come up and speak to the drivers. There will be inflatables, different bands, things going on for everyone,” Callebs said.

She added that during Saturday’s race, Pineville Schools had agreed to let the city use two school buses to transport spectators from downtown up to the finish line near Pine Mountain Lodge and back.

“It really is a big deal. Watching that is so interesting, we hope we can get more community involvement and more people up there. The HillClimb loves to come here, they love being here and we want them to keep coming back,” Callebs said. ”The drivers are really excited. They’re going to go to Pineville School and Page School to let the kids see their cars and they’ll have some things to give away to the students.”

There will be a community cleanup around downtown Pineville starting at 11 a.m. Bags and supplies will be available.

The council also discussed potential zoning for a medical cannabis dispensary in the city after a new state law was passed making medical marijuana legal in Kentucky. No action was taking by the council

“I just want you to be aware that it has passed and some cities are already moving on it,” Madon said. “My biggest concern is trying not to have a dispensary within 1,000 yards of a school or 1,000 yards of a church. That’s going to limit us some in our downtown area.”

The council also declined to take action on a request to allow utility vehicles on city streets.